Elke Warth (1964) is a well-established German artist living and working in Turin. She moved to Turin after graduating in painting (1988) from the Academy of Fine Arts in Karlsruhe under the mentorship of Prof. Max G. Kaminski. In 1991 she won a scholarship from the Department of Culture of the Baden-Württemberg region for a one-year stay in Italy. She belongs to the group of local artists who came to prominence in the 1990s in the new Italian art scene in Turin. In Turin she has collaborated with a number of galleries (Carbone, Weber & Weber, ES, Allegretti, Paludetto). Her work is represented in various private and municipal collections (Fratelli Borroni Foundation, Turin, and others). Elke has strong links with American-Italian artist Victor Kastelic (1964), in whose gallery Kspaces her work was recently included in many collective shows: Libri d'artista (2017), Black and White Nights (2018), The Greatest Things/Le cose migliori (2018), Small History (2018) and Foreshadows/Prefigurazioni (2019).
The atmosphere of her images can best be described by the German word Ahnung ("premonition", "foreboding"). Intuition always oscillates between the conscious and unconscious. A restless intuition that is also a premonition of a bitter ending; dreams that already have a feeling of their inevitable dissolution. The void that neither decoration nor beauty can remove. Teenage girls live on this ridge, between the childhood of illusion and adulthood of disillusionment. While the soul embarks on a painful journey between an age that is being abandoned and an age that has not yet been reached, the body instead celebrates a perfection that almost seems to defeat time, death. Death is the theme of her work.
The interest in portraits that has been influencing my work for quite a while has recently focused on people I have known since their childhood and who I could observe while they were growing up. At the same time, the beginning of the "Boys and Girls" project and the special approach of the "essential" form of portraiture (no pattern, no decorative elements) fell into the long period of several lockdowns due to Covid 19 – these being particularly severe in Turin. For months I found myself communicating through online conference services like Zoom, with the participants appearing closed up inside squares, so-called tiles, a term that we all got used to during these strange times. Somehow my 30 x 30 cm pieces have become a mirror of this period when I had many opportunities to reflect through my work about people – where they come from and where they go to.
– Elke Warth on Boys & Girls from “The Tragic Fate of Feeling” series (2022)
The latest and long cycle of recent works by Elke Warth step into the parlours of memory and projected personal sentiment. There appear many figures, painted one by one in a seemingly traditional portrait-painting tradition. Instead of prominent subjects of commissions, from people the artist has never met before the sitting, we find young adolescents to whom the artist is personally linked. The portraits surely resemble the sitters but there is a twist of bitter nostalgia that transforms youth into icons of impossible love, loneliness, loss and the willingness to endure the tragic fate of feelings. Elke has known her subjects long before the moment of the portrait, it is therefore inevitable that she also paints what emotionally unites her to each of those faces, to their real stories and to common memories.
– “The Tragic Fate of Feeling” series/Kspaces Archive, Turin (2022)